John Milton (1608-1674) spent his early years in scholarly pursuit. In 1649 he took up the cause for the new Commonwealth, defending the English revolution both in English and Latin - and sacrificing his eyesight in the process. He risked his lifeby publishing The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth on the eve of the Restoration (1660). His great poems were published after this political defeat. John Leonard is a Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario.
'An endless moral maze, introducing literature's first Romantic, Satan' John Carey
In his epic poem Paradise Lost Milton conjured up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos ranging across huge tracts of space and time. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked Adam and Eve at the centre of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man. Written when Milton was in his fifties - blind, bitter and briefly in danger of execution - Paradise Lost's apparent ambivalence has led to intense debate about whether it manages to 'justify the ways of God to men' or exposes the cruelty of authority.
Edited with an introduction and notes by JOHN LEONARD